Singing her heart out


The wren out in our lilac bushes sings from the highest place she can find, and nothing’s stopping her. It’s incredible how consistently she lends her cheerful voice to her surroundings.






Not many feet distant, our delphinium daily shows more color. We’ve been keeping track of this plant’s emersion into a full blues and purple salute.The gradual ascent of pigment (if that’s what it’s called in plant life) delights me. But the key word is gradual, from all-white buds to this: 



Change sometimes comes suddenly in our lives, but other times, creeps along slowly, so that we hardly notice.  Last night a friend said, “I’m not much of a reader, and especially not during the summer, but I couldn’t put In Times Like These down.”

Wow – considering how long and hard I worked to express Addie’s slow transformation in the backdrop of  World War II, that made my day. Or week…or month!

To Addie, who felt hemmed in and hopeless at times, change couldn’t come fast enough. But it bided its time – as occurs so often does with us. Ooh…but look … this morning, the color has spread farther for Delphie, which is what I’ve started calling my delphinium.


Meanwhile, our little wren keeps singing her heart out.


She puts all of herself into her tune. That’s what Addie did, too – her daily chicken chores, gardening, kitchen work, and even unexpected caregiving to an elderly WWI veteran strengthened her during the gradual ascent of her strength. And looking back, we can see that in our “keeping on,” we become more colorful, more empowered. That’s encouragement for today!


Good morning, sunshine!

A quiet Sunday morning, but after a great rain last night, our plants are grinning all over the porch and deck.

Geraniums garner fresh sunshine . . . the plant on the right has TWELVE blossoms right now.


Rosemary and basil greet us . . .



Petunias and johnny jump-ups join in.


Yesterday the first edits for A Purpose True, the sequel to Addie’s story, arrived. A time to pay attention to details, to make things better, to brighten the world around us, and to enjoy the process.

Already, tomato blossoms promise a fruitful summer . . . what more could we ask?

New Puppy in the Family

Our daughter and family brought their new sheepadoodle home yesterday. Is she cute or WHAT??!!


Here’s Grandpa cuddling Tessa:


Everyone is delighted with this  quiet new family member – most of the time, she’s content to be held. But when we were outdoors, our neighbor’s dog barked, so Tessa uttered her first bark, too.


The perfect amount of white accentuates her face and all four paws, and she skips like the little lambs I recall from my childhood.


Her soft, wooly fur invites a hug. and reminds me how much comfort my heroine Addie found in Old Brown, the farm dog she petted and talked to when she was feeling down.

I just returned from a writing workshop in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which re-taught me that new friends make a huge difference in our lives.

And Old Brown made a difference for Addie, as little Tessa already has for her new family.


Are all writers Authors?

Carol Parsons has been writing a long time. But what qualifies a writer as an author? Take it away, Carol . . . 

I started writing when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 1980. She was 3 years old and I needed answers, but I couldn’t find anything. When I found even the smallest amount of helpful knowledge, I would journal it so I could refer back to it later.

As time passed, we had two more children and decided to homeschool. I couldn’t afford homeschool curriculum, so I rewrote the public school’s lessons to suit our beliefs. Each week we would read library books, and I often thought I could write better, or spin an old story with a creative ending. Mostly, my writing was just for my family. Eventually however, I started writing newsletters for our church, pamphlets for the 700 club crisis line, plays for the church youth group, then employee manuals and such at my different jobs. In the process, I fell in love with writing, and after awhile I couldn’t remember a time I didn’t write.

For years, I had fantasized about writing a “real” book but never thought I could since I wasn’t…You know… A “real author”. As a public speaker I wrote my own materials, and when asked if I had books I laughed it off. So this year I took my materials from my workshops and other events and created e-books for Amazon. I was shocked at how well received they were. The sales started immediately.

Now, with two books and actual readers, I thought “maybe I am an author”. I began reading and learning all aspects from cover designs, editing, marketing, and formatting. I started writing a book that I had started years ago, and set a June 1st deadline for myself. And through the Grace of God that deadline was met.

Today, I want to share with you my book. “Reaching the Mountain Top” is based on Isaiah 40:31, and written for anyone going through a challenge in their life. It shows four promises that God offers as we wait upon Him. I hope you will get the chance to check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Find out more on at; Reaching The Mountain Top

RTMT cover for Kindle Direct at larger size

My other books can be found here” Manic Success

And From Hobby to Business

 My new photo at 375dpiCONNECT WITH CAROL


Twitter:                                   Facebook: /Carol-L-Parsons-694353317374143/



Jodie Wolfe – A Novella is Born!

WElcome to DARE TO BLOOM, Jodie. Tell us about your novella, please, and what prompted you to write it? 

Here’s the back cover copy of Hearts Tightly Knit:

Orphaned at age ten, Ellie Stafford and her twin sister Mae made a vow—to stick together and never marry. Now in their mid twenties, they are bucking convention in Calder Springs, Texas, as women with respectable occupations who can take care of themselves. Ellie works at the Good Fixin’s Diner and spends her evenings knitting garments for The Children’s Aid Society. When a handsome local rancher shows up searching for a cook, she’s hardly tempted, despite his good looks.

Luke Rogers owns a spread just outside of Calder Springs. It was running as smooth as cattle going through a chute until his cook up and marries and high-tails it back east. With no cook and a bunkhouse full of ranch hands ready to revolt, he persuades Ellie to temporarily fill in until he can hire someone else. He should have known better than to get tangled up with another woman.

Kindle Cover2

I’m part of a group blog, Stitches Thru Time and several of the writers decided to work on a novella collection together. Each of our novellas released separately before being compiled into the collection.

Did the character come to you first, or the plot?

For this story, the plot came first. I wondered what would happen if twin sisters made a vow to always stick together. What would it take for one of them to change their mind?

What was the most difficult part of the writing? 

Hearts Tightly Knit is the second novella I’ve ever written. I’m used to writing novels that are anywhere from 85-95,000 words, so it’s a challenge to write something much shorter.

Which is your favorite part of the writing business – writing, editing, or promotion?

My favorite part is two-part…the research and also the writing process. I truly love delving into history and the whole story process. Getting words down on paper is my favorite part of writing along with breathing life into my characters.

Did this work require any research – what was that like? 

Each of the books I write requires at least some research. They are always set in the 19th century so I’ve done extensive research in the past to have a good handle of the time period. For this novella, I learned what I could about the Orphan Train, which is quite fascinating.


Jodie is giving away one print book (US only) to a commenter. Thanks for taking the time to visit, Jodie, and all the best with your novella.

You can find Jodie at:







Blogs Jodie contributes to: Stitches Thru Time, Putting on the New and of course, Quid Pro Quills.

Social Media 2015

Sonia Solomonson on Loving Ourselves

On this patriotic weekend, I’m excited to welcome Sonia Solomonson, Life Coach, author and former editor, on the topic of loving ourselves. If you’ve read IN TIMES LIKE THESE, my latest women’s fiction, you’ll realize how her advice applies to Addie, the heroine. Love of country comes easily for her, but loving herself presents such a difficult challenge.

Sonia gives us step-by-step guidelines. And she is offering FIVE free forty-five minute life-coaching phone sessions to the first five commenters here. Wow! When you comment, please leave your e-mail address so she can contact you.

5 Tips for Loving Yourself

Even when we see ourselves as extremely independent and self-sufficient, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we desire to be loved.

To have friends, you have to be a friend, we’ve been told.  The same is true for love: To be loved, you have to love. And it all begins with moi! Start by loving yourself.

Some people think self-love is selfish and wrong. Dominican priest and 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas believed that self-love was akin to pride—or “the beginning of all sin.” However, the Bible does tell us to love God with all our heart and soul and “love your neighbor as yourself.” That little word “as” says that I start by loving myself. Then I have the conditions inside me to love my neighbor in that same way. It all stems from God’s love for us.

Psychologist and social philosopher Erich Fromm said in 1956 that loving yourself is different from being arrogant or egocentric. He said rather that it means respecting yourself, knowing yourself, caring about yourself and taking responsibility for yourself. I’m with him!

I’ve heard it said that you are the one person who will be with you longer than anyone else will be—and, therefore, it’s crucial that you learn to be your own best friend.

What does it mean to love yourself?

Here are five tips:

  • Accept yourself. If you beat up on yourself a lot, stop it right now. You wouldn’t do that to your best friend, would you? So why would you think it’s OK to beat up or ridicule yourself? You are unique and precious, a true one-of-a-kind. Accept who and what you are. Love and accept all of yourself, what you see as your special gifts and also what you call your flaws. Often, these are two sides of the same coin.

For example, I’m a sensitive person, tuned in to what others are feeling. That’s a good thing—particularly in my vocation as a life coach but also in my relationships. The flip side, however, is something about which I used to be impatient with myself: I am (overly) sensitive about things others say to and about me. I’ve worked hard to tweak that. I also accept that, to some degree, one goes with the other.

  • Take good care of yourself. It means seeing your body, mind and spirit as precious gifts that need and deserve nurture and attention. It’s all too easy to take our bodies for granted and not give them sufficient rest, good food or plenty of exercise. Sometimes we take better care of our cars than we do our bodies, doing regular maintenance checks and taking care of whatever needs attention!

Let yourself feel whatever emotions arise. Are you sad?  Feel it. Perhaps there’s some loss, whether minor or major, that you simply have to stop and grieve. Are you anxious? Stop and deal with it; don’t ignore it. Do deep breathing, yoga, meditation, prayer or whatever helps you. Afraid? Look your fears in the eye and see whether you can bring them down to size by injecting some realism into them. Are things really as bad as they seem? Can you do anything about it? If not, can you let go? If you can do something, can you find a first step and start moving?

Are you happy? Celebrate that. Savor the good moments. Be grateful for them. Remember it’s OK to celebrate your achievements—both small and large. You can have your own little party. Or you can invite someone special to celebrate with you. Share your joy.

Some of us learned at a young age to stuff down emotions—sad and fearful ones or even joyful ones. If so, you may want to do some work around that so you can experience the full range of emotions.

  • Set boundaries for what behavior you will and won’t accept from others. You have a right to expect to be treated well and spoken to respectfully. You do not have to accept put-downs and abusive treatment—and you certainly don’t want to treat yourself that way either. Remember, boundaries aren’t meant to be punitive or manipulative toward others. They’re simply borders you set for yourself to know what’s OK and what isn’t for you—and what you will do if someone crosses that line.
  • Choose life. Insofar as it’s possible given what’s happening in your life, choose happiness and joy. Choose to be positive. Sometimes you simply need to reframe what’s happening and see possibility rather than a problem. When I lost my job, reframing wasn’t easy. I was hurt, angry, and scared. Only when I could begin to see possibility, however, was I able to create a new dream. Mind you, that didn’t happen overnight. First I needed to grieve the lost dream.

I hope you get the idea. There are many other ways to show yourself love.  Whatever you do, let go of the idea that self-love is selfish or decadent. Self-love is really the start of a more joyful life and deeper, more fulfilling relationships. It’s also the way we teach others how to treat us. Sonia C. Solomonson

A writer, editor and life coach, Solomonson writes daily blogs at, where you can sign up for her monthly ezine.



Serious Subjects in Women’s Fiction

Welcome, Lee Carver. I’m glad you’ve tackled a common theme in our society. Rare is the family without a divorce somewhere among the generations. Your heroine and hero drew me in precisely because one was a widower, and one almost divorced.

Like your recent release, Gail, I tackled the issue of a troubled marriage in “Retreat to Shelter Creek.” Using humor in every way possible to lighten the serious subject, I employed the family guard-pig Beulah, a skunk in the garage, and lots of down-home Texas dialogue.

I’ve felt the need to write about divorce between Christians since our daughter put the kids in the car and drove away from her fifteen-year marriage. She’d said her vows with the highest expectations and did everything possible to make the marriage work.

Two of our nieces, both darling and beautiful Christians, married men who cast them aside. Both tried marriage again quite a few years later, and both were in danger of being murdered by their second husbands. Christian young women may have been reared in such safe environments that they are unaware of how faulted their chosen ones are. They expect a happy marriage like those of their parents—safe, loving, and supportive both emotionally and financially.

My female main character, Ashley, sees an opportunity for an honorable separation from her husband and his pregnant lover by going to her grandmother’s house in Texas. Mama Lou is receiving chemo for breast cancer, and Ashley will help her for the summer. I had already written the first chapters when our daughter, living in a distant state, was given the same diagnosis. I left Texas for six weeks to help with her care, and returned with a realistic understanding of what that requires.

More on the light side, Ashley is a high school teacher of biology. When she extends her stay with Mama Lou, she agrees under duress to teach first grade at the local school. Teachers everywhere will laugh at her experiences with the little ones.

This story will leave you smiling. There’s even an elder romance subplot, and readers will find spiritual inspiration woven throughout.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Ashley went into the shed and got a handful of feed just for the fun of giving it to her. Caught off guard by a rustle in the dark, she froze. Was a person hiding in there? A rattlesnake? Her pulse pounded in her neck. As her eyes adjusted, she spied something bright white moving a few feet away. A bright white stripe. Bordered by blackest black.

A skunk!

Don’t run. Be calm.

The plump, shiny animal waddled toward the back of the shed, giving her courage to slip silently out the door and push it closed.

Leaning against the door, weak-legged and sweating, she thanked God the skunk hadn’t sprayed her.

She had no idea what to do next. In her normal world, there had always been a man she could ask for help. The image of the strong, manly Texas roofer came to mind. His phone number printed on the receipt left in the kitchen beckoned to her. He knew about local animals.

Maybe she would call Austin.

Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads. Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have two children and five grandchildren who live entirely too far away.

Retreat print-6 small front AMAZON.COM:

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Julie Arduini – Entrusted: Surrendering the Present


EntrustedFinalCover2Thanks so much Julie, for being here this week.You’ve done a great job with your covers, and  I wish you all the best with your Indie publications. Now, tell us more!

ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, wasn’t a book I ever thought about writing. I started ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present years and years ago when I first visited the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate NY. As I grew in the craft and surrendered fear of what others would think, I was able to revise the work to what eventually became ENTRUSTED. I’d done enough editing on it that I knew I needed a different ending that would tie up loose plot points.

I have a team that prays for me, and I asked them to pray with me about the ending. As I did, one day the ending just came to me. I know it was God’s direction, it tied everything up perfectly. More than that, it opened the doors for Carla to have a story. I’m really excited to share ENTANGLED with everyone.

Both ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present and ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past are slated for release in May. ENTRUSTED will be available for free as an ebook for awhile, so stay tuned to my Amazon and Goodreads pages, as well as follow me across social media @JulieArduini.

Julie Arduini – Going Indie

Thanks for being here this week, Julie. I’m interested in how you decided to go Indie.


The decision  was a complete God orchestration. Last year I felt a stirring that I could not put my finger on. The more I read devotions, Bible studies, and writing books, the clearer I felt the picture was getting, but I wasn’t sure how to go about changing things. In what I can only explain as God at work, the door opened for me to get the rights back to my work and move forward in obedience to what God was calling me to do.

I created Surrendered Scribe Media. It’s not only the imprint I’ll use for my books, but encompasses everything I’ll do as a speaker and encourager. My heart is to encourage audiences to find freedom through surrender. Fiction writing will be a big part of that, but I hope to do much more.

Going Indie isn’t easy, especially if you want to be a respected mainstay. I spent most of the winter reading and in training on all aspects from cover design, editing, marketing, formatting, and distribution. My husband reminded me that much of what I was learning would carry me through all my projects, not just releasing the Surrendering Time series.

Thanks for sharing the process and challenges, Julie. I have a feeling many authors will relate to and learn from you sharing.

Julie Arduini – The Entangled Series

Welcome, Julie. I’m glad to have you visit, with three posts this week to celebrate your new releases. I’ve always enjoyed your quip about someday surrendering the chocolate. (See below.) Today, I’m looking forward to hearing about Entangled-Surrendering the Past.


I’m excited to present the second book in my rebranded Surrendering Time series (formerly Adirondack Surrender Romance).  This is Carla Rowling’s story, Jenna Anderson’s best friend from ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present. In ENTANGLED, Carla’s been handed her dream. She’s able to leave her “pay the bills” job as sheriff and attend cosmetology school. It’s such an extravagant gift Carla feels unworthy, still unable to forgive herself for becoming a mom as a teenager.

Carla struggles with guilt, and leaving her now teenaged son, Noah, as she goes to school. When Noah’s father, Wayne Peterson, moves to town and asks Carla to give him one more chance, she’s torn. Her flannel-wearing, truck driving boyfriend, Will Marshall, has supported her through all the changes. As she tries to excel in beauty school, she deals with fear of Noah making teen choices that are too familiar to her own history. Wayne’s right there, wanting to pick up where they left off in high school. Will doesn’t know Carla’s torment because she hasn’t told him her problems. Will Carla’s choices cause as many entanglements as a bad perm?

ENTANGLED is scheduled for release in May. Look for ENTRUSTED to re release for free (ebook) in the same time frame. Follow Julie Arduini on Amazon, Goodreads, and throughout social media as @Julie Arduini to stay in touch for the latest information.

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the upcoming re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, set for a spring release. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.







Snapchat: @juliearduini



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